The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Politburo nod to VAT ‘test’ in Bengal

New Delhi, April 17: The CPM politburo has given the Bengal government the go-ahead to impose Value Added Tax.

At the end of its two-day meeting today, CPM general secretary Harkishen Singh Surjeet said: “We can implement the system and test it. The state government can give up VAT after one year if it is found unsuitable.”

Stressing that it was not an unanimous decision, Surjeet said: “There were differences of opinion on the issue within the politburo — cannot say which is right and which is wrong. Most states, however, have accepted VAT.”

The Kerala unit of the CPM wants the party to have yet another look at VAT while majority from the Bengal unit seem to be in its favour, sources said.

The politburo also discussed the Bengal panchayat elections scheduled for May.

The Trinamul Congress has demanded postponement of the polls, alleging that CPM cadres prevented their opponents from filing nominations.

The politburo said: “The party is confident of Left Front victory for the sixth successive time. Mamata Banerjee is making wild charges because there has been a steady erosion in her popular votebank.”

Replying to Mamata’s charge that CPM cadres are not allowing candidates from the rival camp to file nominations, Surjeet said: “Let them then go to court.”

Even though the politburo criticised the A.K. Anthony government of Kerala for its “anti-people” policies, it will not back the rebel faction within the Congress. “It is their business. What can we do '” said Surjeet.

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